I recently started my fourth clinical exercise study for cancer survivors. For this study, I was randomized to a tai chi class. The other arms of the study are a stretch class and a strength training class. The other studies I participated in have been strength and stretch classes so I was thrilled for something new like tai chi.
This study is all women who have had chemotherapy with any cancer treatment. There are about 15 in this first class from ages 50 to 75. My commitment is six months of tai chi classes twice a week and six months follow-up. The objective is looking at falls and balance and the impact the various exercises have on influencing the outcome for better balance, greater stability and less falls.
Tai chi is very different than dance, weight, strength, or stretch classes. It is slow. I am trying to embrace the slowness. For hand placement, we are told to imagine holding a ball. I have never been into ball sports, but I am embracing the tai chi imaginary ball.
My experiences in the past studies fostered a sense of community, and I have made some close friends. I am looking forward to get to know the members of this class. Widening the scope to all cancers is a great learning experience. I am humbled by the strength and endurance of some of my classmates in their quest for thriving in survivorship.
One of the most important outcomes for the study for all women is in the future. It will give proven data on the effects of exercise be it tai chi or stretch or weight training on improving balance and reduce falls in women over age 50 who had chemotherapy in their cancer treatments. Once data the is published and proven, which may be in four years from now, doctors will be able to prescribe an exercise program to help their patients in their survivorship. I am honored to participate in this study.